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\nDescribed as ‘India’s first literary popstar’ by world-renowned film director Shekhar Kapur, ‘India’s Tolkien’ by Business Standard and the ‘Paulo Coelho of the East’ by Business World, Amish’s unique combination of crackling story-telling, religious symbolism and profound philosophies has made him an overnight publishing phenomenon, with spiritual guru Deepak Chopra hailing Amish’s books as ‘archetypal and stirring’.
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\nIn a career spanning 20 years, Darcey Bussell achieved legendary status in the dance world. In 1985 at the age of 16, Darcey was accepted at the Royal Ballet School in London, and in 1989 she became the youngest ever British ballerina to be given the honour of principal dancer. She was awarded Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2006. Darcey’s final performance, MacMillan’s Song of the Earth in 2007, was broadcast live on BBC2 to more than 3.3 million viewers. Today, Darcey is the President of the Royal Academy of Dance, a member of the Board of Directors, Sydney Dance Company, and a patron at the Dance Teachers’ Benevolent Fund and the Margot Fonteyn Foundation.
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\nDubai Abulhoul was born in 1996. Her debut 2-minute animation, Galagolia, earned her recognition as Youngest Director at the inaugural Gulf Film Festival.\nDubai’s number one passion was to find a place among Emirati filmmakers, and her dream turned into reality in 2008, when she was officially named as the Middle East’s Youngest Director at the age of 11. Still owning the title, Galagolia: The Hidden Divination is Dubai’s debut novel and the first in a series of books she’ll publish in the coming future.\n
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\nEoin Colfer is the author of the internationally bestselling Artemis Fowl books. His other titles include The Wish List, The Supernaturalist and the Legends series for younger readers.
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\nFrancesca Simon is best known as the author of the internationally bestselling Horrid Henry books, which have sold millions of copies worldwide, have been translated into 27 languages, and have been adapted for television by CITV. She attributes the success of Horrid Henry to his “outlaw” character and children enjoying reading about “a child who always acts on impulse and never worries about the consequences.”
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\nGeorgina Howell has worked in magazine journalism since the age of seventeen, when she won the Vogue Talent Contest. She was Features Editor of British Vogue at 21. She was under contract for twenty years to the Sunday Times Magazine, where she interviewed stars including Elizabeth Taylor, Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford, Tom Hanks and Al Pacino; Princess Anne and other members of the British royal family; Princess Caroline of Monaco, Mrs Nancy Reagan and the President of Ireland, Mary Robinson. She was under contract to American Vogue for ten years, and was a guest writer for newspapers and magazines including Vanity Fair and Tatler. Much of her work has been serialised or syndicated around the world.
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\nJeremy Bowen is a journalist with a vast knowledge and experience of the Middle East. From 1995-2000, he was based in Jerusalem as the BBC’s Middle East Correspondent, winning awards from television festivals in New York and Monte Carlo, as well as a Best Breaking News Report award from the Royal Television Society on the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. During the Kosovo crisis of 1999, he reported extensively from the region, often in dangerous conditions, which included being robbed at gunpoint by bandits whilst reporting from the Albanian border. Since June 2005 he has been working in the newly created role of BBC Middle East Editor.
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\nJeremy Paxman was born in Yorkshire and educated at Cambridge. He is an award-winning journalist who spent ten years reporting from overseas, notably for Panorama. He is the author of seven books of non-fiction including The English, The Political Animal and Empire. He is the presenter of Newsnight and University Challenge and has presented BBC documentaries on various subjects including the Victorians, Wilfred Owen and Empire.
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\nJoanne Harris was born in Barnsley in 1964, of a French mother and an English father. She studied Modern and Mediaeval Languages at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge and was a teacher for fifteen years, during which time she published three novels: The Evil Seed (1989), Sleep, Pale Sister (1993) and Chocolat (1999), which was made into an Oscar-nominated film starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp.
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\nJohn Boyne was born in Ireland in 1971. He is the author of 8 novels for adults and 4 for younger readers, including The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, which has sold more than six million copies worldwide and been made into a Miramax feature film.
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\nJohn McCarthy has worked as a journalist since leaving university. In 1986, on his first foreign assignment, he was abducted by Islamic Fundamentalists and held hostage for 1,943 days. Subsequently, this terrifying experience was explored in the film Blind Flight and in John’s best-selling book Some Other Rainbow (co-written with Jill Morrell).
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\nJudy Finnigan, alongside her husband Richard Madeley, is a household name in the UK – as Richard & Judy they are credited with both changing the face of daytime TV through This Morning and promoting reading among the UK public through Richard & Judy’s Book Club.
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\nKate Adie, author and broadcaster, became a familiar figure to viewers through her work as the BBC’s Chief News Correspondent, sending dispatches from danger zones around the world. Kate’s memorable assignments include both Gulf Wars, Tiananmen Square, four years of war in the Balkans, the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster at Zeebrugge, and the massacre at Dunblane. She is the long-serving presenter of Radio 4’s From Our Own Correspondent and has served as a judge on several literary prizes.
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\nNicholas Evans began his career in the 1970s as a trainee journalist and then as a TV reporter, specialising in US politics and foreign affairs, most notably covering the war in Beirut. By the 1980s he was producing award-winning films for The South Bank Show. His film on director David Lean proved a turning point. Lean became a friend and mentor, encouraging him to start writing and producing independently.
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\nPaddy Ashdown was born in New Delhi in 1941. Between 1959 and 1972 he served as a Royal Marines Officer and saw active service in Borneo and the Gulf and commanded a Special Boat Section in the Far East. He went to Hong Kong in 1967 to undertake a full-time course in Chinese, returning to with a First Class interpretership in Mandarin.
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\nPam Ayres has been a writer, broadcaster, and entertainer for almost 40 years. Her latest book is her new collection of poems, You Made Me Late Again!, published in September 2013 by Ebury Press. Pam’s autobiography, The Necessary Aptitude, was the UK’s best-selling female autobiography of 2011 when it was published by Ebury.
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\nIn a successful TV partnership with his wife Judy Finnigan, Richard Madeley has been described as having ‘changed daytime TV’. Their daily programme, This Morning, brought them both celebrity status and, in their ‘Richard & Judy Book Club’, a platform to potentially make the careers of the authors they acclaimed.
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\nPerhaps best-known for his hugely successful work with Andrew Lloyd-Webber: Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita, Sir Tim Rice has also written lyrics for Disney films The Lion King (with Elton John) and Aladdin. November 2013 saw the opening of From Here to Eternity, his first full-scale musical in 13 years,